A John Oliver Net Neutrality Rant Has Crippled The FCC Website A Second Time

from the once-more-into-the-breach dept

Back in 2014, you might recall that John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week tonight” aired an outstanding piece on net neutrality. In it, Oliver compared then FCC boss Tom Wheeler to a dingo, explained why a neutral internet was important, and trashed much of the flimsy logic giant ISPs like Comcast use to consistently justify anti-competitive behavior. The piece was so immensely successful at explaining an incredibly complicated and relatively wonky subject, it drove a record number of annoyed consumers to the FCC commenting website — where they demanded the FCC step up and defend the open internet.

That public outcry was a major reason Wheeler decided to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act — and pass real net neutrality rules in 2015.

Fast forward to 2017. New FCC boss Ajit Pai has made it abundantly clear he plans to gut those same rules, resulting in Oliver running a second piece on net neutrality on Sunday night:

In this new video, Oliver notes that he registered the gofccyourself.com domain, making it simpler for annoyed net neutrality supporters to find the relevant FCC proceeding comment section on the agency’s website. And, once again, it appears that the FCC’s website was crippled by the massive influx of viewers. Shortly after the program aired, the FCC website collapsed under heavy load, and continued to suffer from issues throughout Monday (though there’s an alternative way to file your comments to the FCC via this link).

In his piece, Oliver once again urged those that care about an open internet to step up to the plate. And given net neutrality’s massive, bipartisan appeal, he suggested that “Donald Trump’s internet fans” should lend a hand:

“Every internet group needs to come together like you successfully did three years ago,” Oliver declared. “Every subculture must join as one. Gamers, YouTube celebrities, Instagram models, and even Tom from MySpace, if you’re still alive.” Oliver also implored “Donald Trump’s internet fans on sites like 4Chan and Reddit” to join the fight. “This subject is one of the things that we actually really agree on,” Oliver said.

Since data shows that satirists often do a better job informing the public than many actual news outlets, net neutrality supporters hope that Oliver’s second piece on the subject livens up what has been a fairly tepid and apathetic public reaction to the killing of the rules. ISPs and Pai hope to capitalize on debate fatigue and fractured attention spans when the agency votes to launch a notice of proposed rulemaking on May 18 to begin dismantling the rules. From there, the public commenting period will be extended until a finalizing vote later this year.

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Comments on “A John Oliver Net Neutrality Rant Has Crippled The FCC Website A Second Time”

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34 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Since the Trump controlled FCC

You have reached Comcast technical support.

Please press 1 if you are calling about your slower internet speeds since the new FCC chairman was appointed.

Please press 2 if you are calling about your higher prices since the new FCC chairman was appointed.

Please press 0 if you would like to be routed to a call center in a third world country.

Your call is important to us. Comcast wishes to apologize for any convenience you may have experienced.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you're having trouble at the FCC change web browsers

Just a tip, I had a terrible time getting the state drop down box to load a list of states. It kept just loading ‘* Required’ as the only item.

I switched from Firefox to edge, and had to click on the drop down box multiple times for it to finally load the list of states and let me submit my comment.

Jason says:

Raising awareness like this is great, but I’ve always thought there was one problem with it: It makes it too easy for the people on the receiving end to dismiss any such comments as meaningless or otherwise not worth listening to. “Oh, it’s just the Jon Oliver people.”

I hope that isn’t what happens, but I’m always afraid it’s a possibility.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We also have to be careful of ISPs co-opting the language. If we get a million people just saying they want net neutrality and Open Internet, Comcast and Verizon are planning to hold that up as proof that people don’t want government oversight of "the Internet". It’s doublespeak and it’s false.

Don’t let them muddy the waters, be clear in the terms you use and what they mean. We DO need regulation of Internet Service Providers, but NOT censorship of the Internet in general.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As much as they will 100% try to do something like that to get around the issue (including a smear-campaign with new proportions of nasty against Jon Oliver). The greatest fear of even some republicans is having to defend voting against something with broad public support in a midterm election. While the FCC sites stability is not an indicator of much, it is a sign that the brit is still able to move something.

The true test is how much further into the media and into the future this issue makes it. I think the issue is pretty well-defined and has a very broad support, but the attention has been lacking for it to scare politicians into rethinking their position – away from the money talks it is today and into a bullshit walks. Don’t worry defence contracting is impossible for the public to turn into an actual issue since it is so easy to cover it in shrouds of “national security”.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Those people will tend to find any excuse to wave away valid criticism anyway. I mean, look at the pushback over SOPA. There’s still people out there who dismiss the outcry as some kind of astroturf campaign by Google, even though they neither had anything to do with the opposition campaign nor came out against SOPA until very near the deadline.

Then, of course, what’s the alternative? Oliver and other shows not informing the public out of fear that their words will be misused? Informing them but making sure they don’t make it too easy to register their comments? Not enabling people to have their voice clearly heard is more problematic than people arbitrarily deciding not to listen, I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

on top of this call to keep ‘Net Neutrality’ and keep the likes of Comcast and Verizon from taking total control of it, a call to get rid of Pai and have him investigated for his complete desire to screw the public, screw the internet while giving everything to the ISPs wouldn’t come amiss! just exactly what he is getting out of destroying ‘net neutrality’ must be in the interests of everyone to know!!

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

update: FCC claims DDOS

which I am calling bullshit right now.

the time that the DDOS started (as stated by the FCC itself) would have coincided with when comments would have started flooding in post show.

also correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the first FCC site drop last several days as well?

The FCC however, has elected NOT to elaborate or make a statement thereof.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe I'll just do this the normal way instead...

I’m in Canada and the FCC doesn’t directly impact myself and my syrup-slurping friends. These decisions do generally indirectly affect us though as Canadian politics are generally just seal clapping for whatever the US does.

Problem is though that this (and many other) John Oliver videos are geoblocked for Canadian persons. While there’s probably a long and complicated reasoning for this (someone needs to prod Bell for answers) it still happened. That also means that both HBO and John Oliver’s producing staff allowed this.

So I’ll just got to fcc.gov directly and see what I can stir up there. Might as well go right to the source if I can’t even hear what the middleman has to say for less than $15 per month.

Liam says:

Not open to all

“The uploader has not made the video available to your country”. So much for a neutral and open internet (and no, there is absolutely no way for me to watch the clip post broadcast at any price beside piracy). Also interesting to see that “comment by the general public” is now considered “DDOS” by US regulatory agencies. Good luck America, you are going to need it!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Lame

So, you’re saying that despite the low level of traffic generated by the show that nobody watches, Trump’s FCC was still unable to handle the response? That they’re so badly run that the smallest increase of traffic from an irrelevant show can bring them to their knees? Yeah, go with that.

I know this is probably a weak Poe attempt, but it’s amusing to see an excuse even less workable than the official “we had a DDOS at that time, nothing to do with genuine interest” response.

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